The Kanji 米粉粗粋類糧粒糖粘-こめへん


In this post we are going to look at kanji that contain米 “rice”– 米粉粗粋類糧粒糖粘. The kanji 米was briefly touched upon earlier in connection with 田 “rice paddies” [The kanji 略各当(當)尚番米券巻 – 田 (2) on July 11, 2015]  Since it is important for this post, we are going to look at it again.

  1. The kanji 米 “rice”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b1%b3For the kanji 米 in oracle bone style, in brown, (a) was a stalk of a rice plant with grains still attached on both sides. (In 稲 bronze ware style had a similar shape inside a mortar.) A layout in which grains are scattered in four corners was seen in oracle bone style, as in (b), through ten style, in red. Setsumon included millet for this kanji. The kanji 米 meant “rice grains.”

The kun-yomi /kome’/ means “rice,” as (uncooked) grains, and is in 米作り (“rice farming” /komezu’kuri/), もち米 (“sweet sticky rice” /mochigome/) that is used for making rice cake. The on-yomi /ma’i/ is in 新米 (“first rice crop of a year; new member” /shinmai/) and 外米 (“imported rice” /gaimai/).  Another on-yomi /be’e/ is in 米国 (“the USA” /beekoku/), 親米派 (“pro-U. S. group” /shinbeeha/), 反米的 (“anti-American” /hanbeeteki/), 日米関係 (“Japane-U. S. relationship” /nichibeeka’nkee/).

Why is America written as 米国 (米國 in kyujitai) in Japanese while 美国 (美國) in traditional Chinese? If you look at old documents, for a short period, a quarter century in the mid-19th century, we see that kanji that were used for America varied. 亜墨利加 (in addition to アメリカ in katakana) was seen on the Japanese diagraph of the reception of Commodor Perry’s landing in 1853, 亜美理駕 in the Japanese translation of the President Millard Fillmore’s letter to the Tokugawa Shogun, 亜墨利加 in the Kanagawa Treaty between Japan and the U. S. in 1854, and 亜米利加 in the book by Yukichi Fukuzawa in 1876. So, for a stressed second syllable /-‘mer/ in |əˈmerikə| three different kanji, 墨, 美 and 米, were used. Japanese eventually settled on 米 while Chinese chose 美. Incidentally 墨 is used for Mexico, as in 米墨戦争 “Mexican American War. Which syllable has a stress is significant to foreigner’s ears. The word メリケン粉 (“wheat flour” /merikenko/) is an example of a word where the first unstressed syllable was dropped.

  1. The kanji 粉 “flour”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b2%89For the kanji 粉 in ten style, the right side 分 consisted of two hands diving something in two and a knife at the bottom, together signifying “to divide something into small pieces; disperse.” Grinding rice produces powder. The kanji 粉 meant “powder.”

The kun-yomi /kona’/ means “powder; flour,“ and is in 粉々の (usually written in hiragana) “shattered; fragmented” /konagona-no/). The on-yomi /ko/ is in 小麦粉 (“wheat flour” /komugiko/), 粉末 (“powder” /hunmatsu/), 花粉 (“pollen” /kahun/) and 粉砕する (“to reduce to powder; smash to pieces” /hunsai-suru/).

  1. The kanji 粗 “coarse; unsophisticated; porous”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b2%97For the kanji 粗, the right side 且 was used only phonetically for /so/ to mean “rough.” Together with the left side they meant “unpolished rice; brown rice.” From that the kanji 粗 meant “coarse; crude; poor quality.”

The kun-yomi 粗い /arai/ means “coarse; porous,” and can be used for words that are usually written in hiragana such as 粗筋 (“outline; summary” /arasuzi/) and 粗捜し /arasa’gashi/) or あらさがし “nit-picking; faultfinding.” The on-yomi /so/ is in 粗末な (“coarse; humble” /so’matsu-na/), 粗品 (“small present” /soshina/), 粗相 (“oversight; carelessness” /so’soo/), 粗忽者 (“careless person; an absentminded person” /sokotsumono/), 粗野な (“rustic; vulgar” /so’ya-na/) and 粗食 (“frugal meal; plain food” /soshoku/).

  1. The kanji 粋 “chic; smart; refined”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b2%8bFor the kanji 粋 in ten style the right side was used phonetically. Together with the left side it meant something “pure.” The kyujitai, in blue, reflected the ten style on the right side but in shinjitai it became the combination of 九 and 十. (I do not have a good explanation for this at the moment.) In Japanese, the kanji 粋 is used as “smartness; chic; refined.”

The kun-yomi /iki/ is in 粋な (“chick; sophisticated; high spirited” /ikina/). as in 粋な帯 (“chic obi; smart obi” /ikinao’bi/), 粋な計らい (“nice touch” /ikina-hakarai/). The on-yomi /sui/ is in 純粋な (“pure” /junsui-na/), 抜粋 (“excerpts” /bassui/) and 無粋な (“lacking in polish; unromantic” /busui-na/).

  1. The kanji 類 “kind; sort”

history-of-kanji-%e9%a1%9eFor the kanji 類 in ten style the left side had 米 “rice” and 犬 “dog,” and the right side had 頁 “a man with a formal headdress; head.” [For 頁 please refer to the earlier post: Kanji Radical 頁おおがい-順顔頭願 on November 15, 2014.] How do we interpret these three items to reach the meaning “sort; kind; variety”? Setsumon explained that there were many kinds of dogss and from that it meant “kind.” Shirakawa wrote that rice and sacrificial dogs were offerings for a rite conducted by a person who wore a formal headdress (頁) and that the rite was called 類. In shinjitai, 犬 lost a short stroke and became 大.

The kun-yomi 類い /tagui/ means “type; sort; analogue” and is in 類いのない (“unique” /taguinona’i/). The on-yomi /ru’i/ is in 種類 (“kind” /shurui/), 人類 (“mankind; Homo sapience” /ji’nrui/), 書類 (“document” /shorui/), 分類する (“to classify; group; sort” /bunrui-suru/) and親類 (“relative; relation” /shinrui/).

  1. The kanji 糧 “food; provision”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b3%a7history-of-kanji-%e9%87%8f-frameThe right side of the kanji 糧 was 量, which we have looked at earlier, as shown on the right. It was a bag that was tied on both ends and had an opening at the top. It signified a scale to weigh a bag of grain. From the original meaning, the kanji 量 means “mass, amount.”

For the kanji 糧, the bronze ware style, in green, was a bag with an opening on top. The bottom could have been rice in four corners. Together it meant “food; provisions.” In ten style rice was added at the top and the right side was the same as the kanji 量. In kanji the top of the right side became 日, and the bottom was 里.

The kun-yomi 糧 /ka’te; kate/ means “food; provisions,” and is in 糧となる (“be nourishing for the future” /kate’-to-naru/). The on-yomi /ryo’o/ is in 食糧 (“food; provision” /shoku’ryoo/).

  1. The kanji 粒 “granule; particle”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b2%92For the kanji 粒, in Old style, in purple, it had 立 “a standing person” on the left, used phonetically, and the right side 食was food in a bowl with a cover. In ten style the left side was “rice” and the right side was 立. Together it meant “particle; grain.”

The kun-yomi /tsubu/ means “grain; particle,” and is in the counter for small particles such as 一粒 (“one piece” /hito’tsubu/) and 粒選りの (”handpicked; the choicest” /tsubuyori-no/). The on-yomi /ryu’u/ is in 微粒子 (“minute particle; a fine grain” /biryu’ushi/).

  1. The kanji 糖 “sugar”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b3%96For the kanji 糖, (a) and (b), both in ten style, looked totally dissimilar. In (a) the left was “food,” and the right side 易 was used phonetically for “sugar; candy.” (b) had rice on the left and the right side was used phonetically to mean “to stretch” in making candies out of sweet rice. Whichever the explanation is, the kanji 糖 meant “sugar.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /to’o/ is in 砂糖 (“sugar” /satoo/), 糖分 (“sugar-content” /to’obin/), 血糖値 (“blood sugar level” /ketto’ochi/), 角砂糖 (“cube sugar” /kakuza’too/) and 砂糖黍 (“sugar cane” /sato’okibi/).

  1. The kanji 粘 “sticky; glutinous”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b2%98For the kanji 粘, the left side was 黍 /kibi/ “millet.” Just a few posts ago we looked at this shape as the origin of the kanji 香. (The Kanji 私種程稲稿称香和歴暦-のぎへん(2) on September 4, 2016)  It signified grains that had a lot of moisture, which makes them glutinous. The right side 占 was used phonetically. Together it meant “sticky; glutinous.” In kanji the left side was replaced by 米.

The kun-yomi 粘る /neba’ru/ means “sticky; glutinous; persevere.” The on-yomi /ne’n/ is in 粘土 (“clay” /ne’ndo/), 粘着性 (“adhesion; stickiness” /nenchakusee/) and 粘膜 (“mucus membrance” /ne’nmaku/)

There are other kanji that have 米. Those whose 米 shapes come from other than “rice” include 隣 from “will‐o’‐the‐wisp“, 数 from hairstyle, 歯 from “teeth,” 断 and 継 from “bundles of threads on shelves.” The kanji that originated from animal paws (釆), such as 番奥釈翻藩, will be taken up when we look at kanji that came from animals. It will be a while to get there. Thank you very much for your interest.  – Noriko  [September 25, 2016]

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